How to stash cash in the cashless country
When arriving at the bank to open your account, you must be able to identify yourself. The preferred form of identification is a passport.
If you are utilizing another form of identification other than a passport, please note that the ID must contain a photo, support your nationality, and be issued by a Swedish authority or other authorized governmental issuer. The bank may also ask for other documents to support your identification.
Employment & Education
To open a bank account at a Swedish bank, you need to show the bank that you have a need for a Swedish bank account. The two most common reasons are either employment or enrollment in an education program in Sweden. You may need to show documentation for either employment or enrollment in an education program, such as an employment contract or a pay stub from your employer, or a certificate of enrollment issued by your university or school.
If you have other reasons for opening a Swedish bank account, discuss directly with your bank and they will inform you as to whether you need to supply them with any relevant documentation.
Proof of Address
In addition to your identification and employment or education enrollment documents, you also need to provide the bank with information regarding your current address in Sweden.
Various documents will suffice for proof of address verification, including a rental agreement, utility bill, or home mortgage or loan document. If you are staying in temporary accommodation in Sweden, a hotel or lodging receipt or reservation can be used. If you are unsure of the type of documentation necessary for proof of address, just ask your bank personnel.
Personal Identity Numbers
Swedish personal identity numbers, or personnummer in Swedish, are issued by Skatterverket, the Swedish tax agency. While a personal identity number is not required to open a bank account in Sweden, having one makes the entire process a lot easier!
Many Swedish banks have it as an internal requirement, and several integral pieces of the digital Swedish banking system, including BankID (Sweden's most widely used electronic identification tool) and Swish (Sweden's most widely used mobile payment system), require you to have a personal identity number.
Learn more about the process of obtaining a Swedish personal identity number on Skatteverket's website.
Choosing the Right Bank
While there are a wide variety of banks from which to choose, a few key decisions can likely narrow down the selection. For example, if you are a foreign citizen, you will almost certainly need to physically visit a bank office to open your account, which limits the choice of banks to those that have offices in your area.
One of our preferred partners for personal banking is Sparbanken Nord, which has offices throughout northern Sweden and staff that are accustomed to welcoming foreigners to the region.
Opening Your Bank Account
If you are not a Swedish citizen, you will most likely have to visit the bank office in person to open your bank account. When you have chosen your bank, make an appointment with the local branch to open your bank account.
When going to your appointment, bring the following documents:
Sweden has a few incredible digital banking services that you should look into to make your personal finances a lot easier!
The two primary digital tools used by most people in Sweden are BankID and Swish. To access both of these digital services you will need to a Swedish personal identity number. If you do not have one, you can read more about the process of obtaining one on the Swedish tax agency's website.
BankID is a digital identification tool that you can use to access your banking services via your phone. It’s used by almost all Swedes (97.4% of all adults, to be precise!), and makes all financial transactions and password protected services much easier. You can use the BankID app on your phone to indetification purposes or digital signatures with more than 5000 companies and authorities, including postal services, online health services, and secure online payments. Your personal BankID is issued by your Swedish bank and then accessible via your phone or computer thereafter.
Swish is a Swedish mobile payment system that can be used to instantly (and free of charge!) transfer money between you and your family, friends, or local and online shops via a user-friendly mobile app. Loved throughout Sweden, it has made personal finance a lot easier for the 8 million Swedes currently using it (80% of the total population!). Swish was launched in 2012 by six of the largest banks in Sweden, in cooperation with the Central Bank of Sweden, and is now used by most banks in the country. Just check with your local bank if they integrate with the service, and start transferring (or receiving!) money today.
There are a wide variety of personal insurances you can obtain in Sweden, but the three most important are:
Home/property insurance: If you rent or purchase an apartment or house, you should obtain home insurance. The purpose of taking out comprehensive home insurance is to protect your home and property. Comprehensive home insurance also includes liability insurance, legal protection, assault and robbery protection, and travel insurance. Even though home insurance is not required by Swedish law, 90% of Swedish households have it. Also, if you are granted a mortgage loan from the bank when purchasing an apartment or a house, the bank will require that the property is insured.
Social insurance system: Sweden has a social insurance system to provide financial security during different stages of life. This includes social insurance benefits for families with children, people with a disability or illness, and the elderly, and compensation for personal sick leave or when taking care of sick children. The system is publicly funded through taxes. The Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) is the government agency that administers the social insurance system in Sweden.
Private health insurance: Private health insurance has long been considered unnecessary in Sweden because the social insurance system offers comprehensive coverage free of charge.
However, private health insurance has become increasingly popular over the last five years. The privileges of a private health insurance are mainly greater coverage and faster access to some medical examinations and procedures.
Buying a home
Buying a home in Sweden is generally a rather simple process. We recommend visiting a few real estate companies in your area to learn more and start searching for your dream home today!
Hemnet: An almost one-stop-shop for most home listings in Sweden is Hemnet, which can be a great starting place if you wish to learn more about the current supply and pricing of Swedish homes.
Swedish Mortgages: Swedish mortgages are often approved for longer terms when compared with most other countries, with some having a term of more than 50 years. This results in lower monthly payments, often times reducing the overall financial burden of owning a home. However, you can only borrow up to 85% of the property’s value – meaning you need to have a down payment of at least 15%.
If you are interested in purchasing a home in Sweden, start by talking to your private bank, as most Swedish banks also offer both mortgages and guidance in the process of purchasing a home.
Why is the bank asking me so many questions?
Banks in Sweden operate in a highly regulated space, and they have specific responsibilities pertaining to anti-money laundering and ”Know Your Customer” questions – meaning the bank need to know the purpose and type of business relationship with you as a customer and they also need to understand the origin and purpose of money transferred to bank accounts. They don’t ask you all of these questions because they are suspicious about you, but rather because they are legally required to do so. When going to the bank, make sure you’re prepared to answer all and any questions about your personal finances, where money is coming from, and where it is going. In certain cases the bank may ask for documentation in support of your explanation.
Why won’t the bank allow me to deposit cash?
Sweden has very strict anti-money laundering regulations, and banks are legally required to ask for evidence of where cash comes from before allowing a customer to deposit it in the Swedish banking system. It is not forbidden to deposit cash, but you need to be able to present proof or evidence of how you have acquired the cash and that it is both legal and taxed.
What is the income tax in Sweden? I’ve heard it’s over 50%!
True and false. Sweden has a progressive income tax, meaning that the more you earn, the higher taxes you have to pay. It is true that for the highest earner, the marginal tax on income is right above 50%, but the average income tax is far lower than that in Sweden. Plus, what you get for the taxes is considered by most Swedes, more than worth it – including free university tuition, universal healthcare, and universal childcare!
What bank should I use?
There are over 100 licensed banks in Sweden to choose from, giving you a wide range of options. Our preferred partner for personal banking services is Sparbanken Nord.
If you wish to explore other options, the largest and most commonly used banks in Sweden include SEB, Handelsbanken, Nordea, Swedbank, Skandia, and Danske Bank.
Is it true that no one uses cash in Sweden?
No. However, Sweden is the country with the least cash usage in the entire world. As a result, using a Swedish bank for personal finance needs, including a debit card, is highly recommended. You should also be aware that it is increasingly common for businesses in Sweden to not accept cash at all, so if you are unable to pay via card, make sure the vendor accepts cash before making any purchases.
Why is my bank not allowing me to transfer money to and from country X?
Swedish banks are under strict regulations from the government and other applicable authorities. Specifically, there is a list of countries that Swedish banks are not allowed to transfer funds to or from. If you are transferring money to countries outside of the European Union, make sure to confirm with your bank that such transfers are allowed before making or planning for any payments.